When facing financial distress, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in California can help you achieve relief and a financial "fresh start" from overwhelming debts. However, understanding what Chapter 7 can or cannot do, the eligibility requirements, and when it is right for you is crucial to make well-informed decisions about your financial situation.
If you're overburdened with debts and considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, consulting with an experienced California bankruptcy attorney is extremely beneficial. At The Law Office of Richard T. Baum, I'm ready to provide the most for my clients in the legal matters of debt relief and bankruptcy.
As your legal counsel, I can examine your unique financial circumstances, inform you about what Chapter 7 does, and determine if you qualify. In addition, I will help file your petition and represent you diligently at every phase of the bankruptcy process. My firm - The Law Office of Richard T. Baum - proudly serves clients across Los Angeles and surrounding communities throughout California.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy - commonly referred to as "liquidation" bankruptcy - is a form of debt relief that is designed to help individuals, families, and business owners eliminate most of their general unsecured debts, such as medical debts, credit card debts, and unsecured personal loans. In addition, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you achieve the financial "fresh start" you always desired.
In Chapter 7, the bankruptcy court will appoint an independent contractor (a trustee) to handle your case. The bankruptcy trustee will collect, evaluate, and sell your non-exempt assets, such as your second vehicles, second homes, family heirlooms, bonds, stocks, cash, vacation homes, bank accounts, and other investments.
It is important to note that any amount realized from the sale will be used to settle some or all of your outstanding debts and creditors. However, you will be left with your exempt assets, including your primary house, vehicle, clothing, household appliances, and furniture pieces. An experienced attorney can tell you about what bankruptcy does - or doesn't do - and help you make intelligent decisions.
Here are some of the things you can achieve by filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy:
- It can help wipe out your general unsecured debts, such as credit card debts, medical bills, and unsecured personal loans.
- It relieves you of some financial obligations, except child support and alimony payments.
- It activates an "automatic stay" order on your existing debts, which immediately stops all creditor calls, harassment, wage garnishments, and other collection actions.
- It can help you rebuild your credit rating steadily over time.
- It activates an "automatic stay" order, which prevents the creditor from repossessing, foreclosing, or evicting you from your property.
However, there are certain things that Chapter 7 cannot do. These include:
- It won't leave you with nothing. You can keep your major assets, such as your primary motor vehicle, home, clothing, and furniture pieces.
- It won't eliminate your student loan debts, except in very rare circumstances.
- It won't relieve your domestic support obligations. You would still need a family court order to stop paying spousal support and child support.
- It won't wipe out certain debts, such as federal, local, and state back taxes, fines and penalties, divorce settlement debts, criminal restitution, and fraudulent debts.
A seasoned California Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney can help determine if you qualify for Chapter 7 and walk you through the filing process.
To be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in California, you must pass the bankruptcy "means test" and complete some credit counseling courses before and after filing.
A bankruptcy "means test" test will assess your financial records to determine whether you can file for Chapter 7. This requires calculating your disposable income by deducting bills, expenses, and other payments from your income. The possible scenarios include:
- If your family income is above the median income for your household size in California, but you have a low disposable income, you will qualify for Chapter 7.
- If your income is less than California's median income for your household size, you will qualify for Chapter 7.
- If you have a reasonable disposable income, you may achieve debt relief through Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
To be eligible for Chapter 7 in California, your family income must be lower than the median income for your household size in the state.
- One-person household - $75,235
- Two-member household - $93,175
- Three-member household - $104,785
- Four-member household - $122,707
*Add $9,000 for each household in excess of 4 members.
The figures listed above are for bankruptcy cases filed on or after May 15, 2023, but are often updated regularly. A seasoned lawyer can examine the conditions and help determine if you're eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in California.
Filing for Chapter 7 is quite common in California, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. However, before filing your petition, you need to know the benefits, eligibility requirements, and limitations of Chapter 7. Therefore, if you're thinking about filing for Chapter 7, you need to speak with a trusted bankruptcy attorney for legal assistance that can help you in the long run.
At The Law Office of Richard T. Baum, I proudly give help to clients with the complicated procedures involved in filing bankruptcy. With my broad knowledge, I can determine your eligibility for Chapter 7, help file your petition, and represent you intelligently during the court process. Also, I will help you achieve your deserved financial clean slate, gradually improve your finances and credit rating, and help ensure that you do not suffer another financial setback.
If you need proper guidance when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, call me at The Law Office of Richard T. Baum today for an initial consultation. I have the comprehensive guidance and detailed advocacy you need to navigate key decisions in your bankruptcy petition. My firm proudly serves clients across Los Angeles and surrounding areas throughout California.